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This podcast focuses on Criterion’s Eclipse Series of DVDs. Hosts David Blakeslee and Trevor Berrett give an overview of each box and offer their perspectives on the unique treasures they find inside. In this first episode of a two-part series, David and Trevor are joined by Pablo Knote to discuss two films (Black Sun and Thirst for Love) from Eclipse Series 28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara.
About the films:
Over the course of his varied career, Koreyoshi Kurahara made meticulous noirs, jazzy juvenile-delinquency pictures, and even nature films. His free-form approach to moviemaking was perfectly suited to the radical spirit of the 1960s, when he was one of the biggest hit makers working at the razzle-dazzle, youth-oriented Nikkatsu studios. The five films collected here hail from that era of the Japanese New Wave, and encompass breathless teen escapades, cruel crime stories, a Yukio Mishima adaptation, and even a Hollywood-inspired romantic comedy. »
- David Blakeslee
Clip It: Each day, Jon Davis looks at the world of trailers, featurettes and clips and puts it all in perspective. Krall, the new Star Trek villain has already done us all dirty. He's taken away Idris Elba's beautiful face. I hate prefacing this by saying I'm a heterosexual man (actually, I guess I don't hate it because I just did), but I like to fancy myself someone who knows a hot dude when I see one. Some have argued with me on this point, but you'd have to be blind not to see that Idris Elba is a god of beauty. Don't just take my word for it. I've seen every episode of The Wire five times, sometimes accompanied by women, and they have made it very clear that Idris Elba is highly sexy individual. Why cover that up? I understand that Krall is a new species (not Gorn! »
- Jon Davis
The final chapter in The Long Earth series, The Long Cosmos shall resonate in memory for being perhaps the final piece of published writing from the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett, who sadly died in 2015. The series, co-authored with hard science writer Stephen Baxter, originated from an idea Pratchett had tucked away since before even he started his long-running Discworld series, on which he made his name, and came to fruition following a dinner party with Baxter in the late-2000’s after which they decided to collaborate on bringing it to life.
Originally sketched out as a trilogy, The Long Earth saga ultimately needed extra room to breathe and this fifth and final entry was completed by Baxter upon Pratchett’s untimely death. He does a fine job in bringing to a conclusion what could have been a »
- Tony Black
The Rogue Initiative and Michael Bay today announced a partnership to develop original entertainment properties with a focus on virtual reality and interactive hardware. The new collaboration will produce immersive, virtual adventures offering gritty, danger-close action coupled with Michael Bay's signature style and storytelling that fans all over the world have come to expect from his blockbuster action films. Here's what Pete Blumel, co-founder and CEO of The Rogue Initiative, said in his statement.
"I've enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Mr. Bay and couldn't be more excited to work with him and truly leverage his unique vision and incredible depth of experience to this amazing new medium. We're all absolutely thrilled to be working with such a cinematic powerhouse in the field of action entertainment."
This is Bay's first foray into interactive entertainment; he will direct and The Rogue Initiative will produce and develop original content in cinematic-style Vr. The Rogue Initiative officially launched earlier this year with several projects in development. Here's what Michael Bay had to say in his statement.
"I've known Pete for a long time, and he's put together a great team. I'm excited about building new visual worlds for this innovative medium with them."
The company will seek further investment and strategic partnerships to develop its slate of upcoming cinematic, interactive Vr, film and television projects for platforms and distribution channels, including Sony Playstation, Oculus, Htc Vive, Samsung GearVR, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, feature film, network and cable television. Here's what Cathy Twigg, co-founder and Chief Production Officer of The Rogue Initiative, had to say in her statement.
"We take a comprehensive approach in producing our IP for the entertainment landscape, specializing in film, television and interactive experiences with a focus on virtual reality. This enables The Rogue Initiative to align with our partners in expanding our IP to various other platforms and media. We'll be bringing this approach to the properties we co-create with Mr. Bay as well."
Michael Bay will join The Rogue Initiative as a strategic advisor, along with veteran film and television Producer Lynda Obst (whose credits include Interstellar, Contact, Sleepless in Seattle) as well as other recently added advisors, including Cliff Plumer (President, Jaunt Studios at Jaunt Vr), Matthew Cohan (President, Bay Films), and Cody Simms (Executive Director, Disney/TechStars). Here's what Hrish Lotlikar, co-founder and Cbdo of The Rogue Initiative, had to say in his statement.
"We are producing entertainment properties for a global audience and continue to seek investors and partners internationally that would like to collaborate in developing and distributing our content."
Based in Los Angeles, California, The Rogue Initiative delivers unmatched entertainment and cinematic experiences to global audiences through producing and co-owning original high-end Aaa intellectual properties with potential to expand organically from virtual reality (Vr) to various other platforms and media. Additionally, the company brings a focus on further advancing technology for better consumer experiences, including Vr player controls, navigation, gaze, AI character interaction and the utilization of big data. The Rogue Initiative is backed by top Silicon Valley investors, including Presence Capital and The Vr Fund, and led by a veteran team of award-winning entertainment industry professionals, including alumni from the original Call of Duty team, Amblin Entertainment, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Disney and Activision Studios and Sony Pictures and NBC. Take a look at the concept art for Michael Bay's work with The Rogue Initiative below.
Warner Bros has struggled with its blockbusters of late. But back in summer 1997 - Batman & Robin's year - it faced not dissimilar problems.
Earlier this year it was revealed that Warner Bros, following a string of costly movies that hadn’t hit box office gold (Pan, Jupiter Ascending, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., In The Heart Of The Sea), was restructuring its blockbuster movie business. Fewer films, fewer risks, more franchises, and more centering around movie universes seems to be the new approach, and the appointment of a new corporate team to oversee the Harry Potter franchise last week was one part of that.
In some ways, it marks the end of an era. Whilst it retains its relationships with key directing talent (Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan for instance), Warner Bros was, for the bulk of the 1990s in particular, the studio that the others were trying to mimic. It worked with the same stars and filmmakers time and time again, and under then-chiefs Terry Semel and Robert Daly, relationships with key talent were paramount.
Furthermore, the studio knew to leave that talent to do its job, and was also ahead of the pack in developing franchises that it could rely on to give it a string of hits.
However, whilst Warner Bros is having troubles now, its way of doing business was first seriously challenged by the failure of its slate in the summer of 1997. Once again, it seemed to have a line up to cherish, that others were envious of. But as film by film failed to click, every facet of Warner Bros’ blockbuster strategy suddenly came under scrutiny, and would ultimately fairly dramatically change. Just two summers later, the studio released The Matrix, and blockbuster cinema changed again.
But come the start of summer 1997? These are the movies that Warner Bros had lined up, and this is what happened…
February - National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation
Things actually had got off to a decent enough start for the studio earlier in the year, so it's worth kicking off there. It brought Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back together, for the fourth National Lampoon movie, and the first since 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Interestingly, it dropped the National Lampoon moniker in the Us, and instead released the eventual movie as Vegas Vacation. It was a belated sequel, back when belated sequels weren’t that big a thing.
The film was quickly pulled apart by reviewers, but it still just about clawed a profit. The production budget of $25m was eclipsed by the Us gross of $36m, and the movie would do comfortable business on video/DVD. Not a massive hit, then, but hardly a project that had a sense of foreboding about it.
Yet the problems were not far away.
May – Father's Day
Warner Bros had a mix of movies released in the Us in March and April 1997, including modest Wesley Snipes-headlined thriller Murder At 1600, and family flick Shiloh. But it launched its summer season with Father’s Day, an expensive packaged comedy from director Ivan Reitman, starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. It had hit written all over it.
Father’s Day was one of the movies packaged by the CAA agency, and its then-head, Mike Ovitz (listed regularly by Premiere magazine in the 1990s as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, if not the most powerful man). That he brought together the stars, the director and the project, gave a studio a price tag, and the studio duly paid it. Given Warner Bros’ devotion to star talent (Mel Gibson, then one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and a major Warner Bros talent, was persuaded to film a cameo), it was a natural home for the film. It quickly did the deal. few questions asked.
That package, and CAA’s fees for putting it together, brought the budget for a fairly straightforward comedy to a then-staggering $85m. The problem, though, was that the film simply wasn’t very good. It’s one of those projects that looks great on paper, less great when exposed on a great big screen. Warner Bros has snapped it up, without - it seems - even properly reading the script.
Premiere magazine quoted a Warner Bros insider back in November 1997 as saying “when [CAA] calls and says ‘we have a package, Father’s Day, with Williams and Crystal and Reitman, we say ‘great’”, adding “we don’t scrutinise the production. When we saw the movie, it took the wind out of us. We kept reshooting and enhancing, but you can’t fix something that’s bad”.
And it was bad.
The movie would prove to be the first big misfire of the summer, grossing just $35m in the Us, and not adding a fat lot more elsewhere in the world. Warner Bros’ first film of the summer was a certified flop. More would soon follow.
May - Addicted To Love
A more modestly priced project was Addicted To Love, a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick. Just over a year later, Warner Bros would hit big when Meg Ryan reunited with Tom Hanks for Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail. But here? The film was a modest success, at best.
Directed by Griffin Dunne (making his directorial debut), and put together in partnership with Miramax, Addicted To Love was based around the Robert Palmer song of the same name. But whilst it was sold as a romcom, the muddled final cut was actually a fair bit darker. There was an underlying nastiness to some moments in the film, and when the final box office was tallied, it came in lower than the usual returns for pictures from Ryan or Broderick. Counter-programming it against the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn’t massively help in this instance either, especially as the Jurassic Park sequel would smash opening weekend records.
Addicted To Love ended up with $34.6m at the Us box office. It would eke out a small profit.
June - Batman & Robin
And this is when the alarm bells started to ring very, very loudly. Summer 1997 was supposed to be about a trio of sure-fire hit sequels: Batman 4, Jurassic Park 2 and Speed 2. Only one of those would ultimately bring home the box office bacon, the others being destroyed by critics, and ultimately leaving far more empty seats than anticipated in multiplexes.
Batman & Robin, it’s easy to forget, came off the back of 1995’s Joel Schumacher-steered Batman reboot, Batman Forever that year's biggest movie). It had one of the fastest-growing stars in the world in the Batsuit (George Clooney), and the McDonald’s deals were signed even before the script was typed up. You don’t need us to tell you that you could tell, something of a theme already in Warner Bros' summer of '97.
That said, Batman & Robin still gave Warner Bros a big opening, but in the infancy of the internet as we know it, poisonous word of mouth was already beginning to spread. The film’s negative cost Warner Bros up to $140m, before marketing and distribution costs, and it opened in the Us to a hardly-sniffy $42m of business (although that was down from previous Batman movies).
But that word of mouth still accelerated its departure from cinemas. It was then very rare for a film to make over 40% of its Us gross in its first weekend. But that’s just what Batman & Robin did, taking $107.3m in America, part of a worldwide total of $238.2m. This was the worst return for a Batman movie to date, and Warner Bros had to swiftly put the brakes on plans to get Batman Triumphant moving.
As for the immediate aftermath of Batman & Robin? Warner Bros co-chief Robert Daly would note at the end of '97 that “we’d have been better off with more action in the picture. The movie had to service too many characters”, adding that “the next Batman we do, in three years – and we have a deal with George Clooney to do it – will have one villain”.
Fortunately, Warner Bros’ one solid hit of the summer was just around the corner…
July - Contact
And breathe out.
Warner Bros bet heavily again on expensive talent here, with Robert Zemeckis bringing his adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Contact to the studio for his first film post-Forrest Gump. Warner Bros duly footed the $90m bill (back when that was still seen as a lot of money for a movie), a good chunk of which went to Jodie Foster. It invested heavily in special effects, and gave Zemeckis licence to make the film that he wanted.
The studio was rewarded with the most intelligent and arguably the best blockbuster of the summer. I’ve looked back at Contact in a lot more detail here, and it remains a fascinating film that’s stood the test of time (and arguably influenced Christopher Nolan’s more recent Interstellar).
Reviews were strong, it looked terrific, and the initial box office was good.
But then the problem hit. For whilst Contact was a solid hit for Warner Bros, it wasn’t a massively profitable one. Had Father’s Day and Batman & Robin shouldered the box office load there were supposed to, it perhaps wouldn’t have been a problem. But when they failed to take off, the pressure shifted to Contact.
The movie would gross $100.9m in the Us, and add another $70m overseas (this being an era were international box office rarely had the importance it has today). But once Warner Bros had paid its bills, there wasn’t a fat lot over for itself. Fortunately, the film still sells on disc and on-demand. Yet it wasn’t to be the massive hit the studio needed back in 1997.
July - One Eight Seven
From director Kevin Reynolds, the man who helmed Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Waterworld, came modestly-priced drama 187, starring Samuel L Jackson (in a strong performance). Warner Bros wouldn’t have had massive box office expectations for the film (although it can't have been unaware that the inspirational teacher sub-genre was always worth a few quid), and it shared production duties on the $20m movie with Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. But still, it would have had its eye on a modest success. What it got in return was red ink.
The film’s not a bad one, and certainly worth seeking out. But poor reviews gave the film an uphill struggle from the off – smaller productions arriving mid-summer really needed critics on their side, as they arguably still do – and it opened to just $2.2m of business (the less edgy, Michelle Pfeiffer-headlined school drama Dangerous Minds had been a surprise hit not two years before).
By the time its run was done, 187 hadn’t even come close to covering its production costs, with just under $6m banked.
Warner Bros’ summer slate was running out of films. But at least it had one of its most reliable movie stars around the corner…
August - Conspiracy Theory
What could go wrong? Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts were two of the biggest movie stars in the world in 1997, at a time when movie stars still equated to box office gold. Director Richard Donner, one of Warner Bros’ favourite directors, had delivered the Lethal Weapons, Maverick, Superman, The Goonies and more for the studio. Put them altogether, with Patrick Stewart (coming to wider public consciousness at the time off the back of his Star Trek: The Next Generation work) as a villain, and it should have been a big hit.
Conspiracy Theory proved to be one of the more ambitious summer blockbusters of the era. It lacks a good first act, which would be really useful in actually setting up more of what’s going on. But Gibson played an edgy cab driver who believes in deep government conspiracies, and finds himself getting closer to the truth than those around him sometimes give him credit for.
Warner Bros was probably expecting another Lethal Weapon with the reunion of Gibson (who had to be persuaded to take Conspiracy Theory on) and Donner (it’s pretty much what it got with the hugely enjoyable Maverick a few years’ earlier), but instead it got a darker drama, with an uneasy central character that didn’t exactly play to the summer box office crowd.
The bigger problem, though, was that the film never quite worked as well as you might hope. Yet star power did have advantages. While no juggernaut, the film did decent business, grossing $137m worldwide off the back of an $80m budget ($40m of which was spent on the salaries for the talent before a single roll of film was loaded into a camera). That said, in the Us it knocked a genuine smash hit, Air Force One, off the top spot. Mind you in hindsight, that was probably the film that the studio wished it had made (the cockpit set of Warner Bros' own Executive Decision was repurposed for Air Force One, fact fans).
Still: Warner Bros did get Lethal Weapon 4 off Gibson and Donner a year later…
August - Free Willy 3: The Rescue
Warner Bros opened its third Free Willy film on the same day as Conspiracy Theory (can you imagine a studio opening two big films on the same day now), but it was clear that this was a franchise long past its best days (and its best days hardly bring back the fondest of memories).
Still, Free Willy movies were relatively modest in cost to put together, and Warner Bros presumably felt this was a simple cashpoint project. But in a year when lots of family movies did less business than expected (Disney’s Hercules, Fox’s Home Alone 3, Disney’s Mr Magoo), Free Willy 3 barely troubled the box office. It took in just over $3m in total, and Willy would not be seen on the inside of a cinema again.
August - Steel
Not much was expected from Steel, a superhero movie headlined by Shaquille O’Neal. Which was fortunate, because not much was had.
It had a mid-August release date in the Us, at a point when a mid-August release date was more of a dumping ground than anything else. And even though the budget was set at a relatively low $16m, the film – and it’s an overused time – pretty much bombed. It took $1.7m at the Us box office, and given that its appeal hinged on a major American sports star whose fame hardly transcended the globe, its international takings did not save it (it went straight to video in many territories).
It was a miserable end to what, for warner bros, had been a thoroughly miserable summer.
So what did hit big in summer 1997?
Summer 1997 was infamous for big films failing to take off in the way that had been expected – Hercules, Speed 2, and the aforementioned Warner Bros movies – but there were several bright spots. The big winner would be Barry Sonnenfeld’s light and sprightly sci-fi comedy Men In Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Star power too helped score big hits for Harrison Ford (Air Force One), Julia Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and John Travolta (Face/Off).
This was also the summer that Nicolas Cage cemented his action movie credentials with Face/Off and Con Air. Crucially, though, the star movies that hit were the ones that veered on the side of 'good'. For the first of many years, the internet was blamed for this.
Oh, and later in the year, incidentally, Titanic would redefine just what constituted a box office hit...
What came next for Warner Bros?
In the rest of 1997, Warner Bros had a mix of projects that again enjoyed mixed fortunes. The standout was Curtis Hanson’s stunning adaptation of L.A. Confidential, that also proved to be a surprise box office success. The Devil’s Advocate didn’t do too badly either.
However, two of the studio’s key filmmakers failed to really deliver come the end of 1997. Clint Eastwood’s Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil failed to ignite (although many felt he was always on a hiding to nothing in trying to adapt that for the screen), and Kevin Costner’s The Postman would prove arguably the most expensive box office disappointment of the year. No wonder the studio rushed Lethal Weapon 4 into production for summer 1998. Oh, and it had The Avengers underway too (not that one), that would prove to be a 1998 disappointment.
The studio would eventually take action. The Daly-Semel management team, that had reigned for 15 years, would break up at the end of 1999, as its traditional way of doing business became less successful. The pair had already future projects that were director driven to an extent (Eyes Wide Shut), and it would still invest in movies with stars (Wild Wild West). But the immediate plan of action following the disappointment of summer 1997 – to get Batman 5 and Superman Lives made – would falter. It wouldn’t be until 1999’s The Matrix (a film that Daly and Semel struggled to get) and – crucially – 2001’s Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone that the studio would really get its swagger back...
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Movies Feature Simon Brew Warner Bros 16 Jun 2016 - 05:19 Conspiracy Theory Father's Day Addicted To Love Contact National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation One Eight Seven Steel Batman & Robin Free Willy 3: The Rescue »
Devastation of a world capital and a revenge plan against an American president fuel the high-octane London Has Fallen, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on June 14, 2016 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The sequel to the worldwide smash hit Olympus Has Fallen raises the stakes with non-stop action and suspenseful plot twists. The Blu-ray™ and Digital HD versions also include exclusive bonus features about the can’t-miss thriller.
In London Has Fallen, the stellar cast of Gerard Butler (300), Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black), Sean O’Bryan (Vantage Point), and Morgan Freeman (Lucy) reprises their original roles from Olympus Has Fallen, joined by Alon Moni Aboutboul (The Dark Knight Rises), Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), Charlotte Riley (Edge of Tomorrow), and Waleed F. Zuaiter (Homeland). Babak Najafi directs London Has Fallen.
When the British Prime Minster dies unexpectedly, »
- Movie Geeks
Forget the Cannes jury awards. This year, the most famous film festival in the world showcased something much bigger than a couple of prize-winners: Women filmmakers and actors at the top of their game.
It was hard to miss how much the women before and behind the camera were front and center, dominating the conversation in Cannes. More of the Official Selection films were focused on women than ever before. And a new kind of protagonist emerged at Cannes 2016. She’s independent, strong, often androgynous, and not defined by her relationships with men.
Hollywood producers, executives and filmmakers, take note. This is how it can be done.
Check out the fabulous women of Cannes 2016.
In Paul Verhoeven’s provocative thriller “Elle,” Isabelle Huppert plays a videogame entrepreneur who refuses to allow her violent rape in her own home to ruin her life. She doesn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t call the cops. She changes the locks, gets an Std test, buys pepper spray and learns how to use a gun. She’s a sophisticated, elegant, powerful, modern woman who lives alone, runs her own company, manipulates her family, has sex with whomever she fancies, and is free to do as she pleases.
At 63, Huppert believably plays a younger woman in her sexual prime, bringing all her experience to bear on the role, which was adapted from a French novel by an American screenwriter (David Birke) and then translated back into French when Huppert came aboard. She elevates the character into almost making sense. Typically, Verhoeven refuses to supply psychological underpinnings for what she does. But Huppert makes us believe. With critics and awards-savvy Sony Pictures Classics behind “Elle,” this commercial movie could wind up a North American hit this fall, a French Oscar nominee (if France submits it), and a Best Actress Oscar contender.
Another independent woman is at the center of Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper,” his second English-language film starring Stewart (Cesar-winner for “Clouds of Sils Maria”). She plays Maureen, who acquires fashionable clothes for a rich client, flits around Paris on a scooter, and reaches the people in her life via Skype and mobile. She’s trying to use her skills as a medium to communicate with her twin brother, who has recently died, when mysterious texts suddenly appear on her iPhone. “Who is this?” she asks. “Personal Shopper” tracks a lost and lonely soul who is disconnected from herself. As she tries on her client’s sexy costumes and figures out who is tracking her, she eventually finds her identity again.
Stewart had a good Cannes, showing her stripes not only in her roles in “Personal Shopper” and opener Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society,” but by deftly fielding, with finesse and poise, the many questions thrown at her during press conferences and interviews. She refused to be drawn into the Allen controversy (unlike co-star Blake Lively), wore flats when she could have worn heels, and explained why she likes working with intellectual directors like Assayas. She’s a smart career shaper with a rosy future who rather than conform to Hollywood demands, prefers to make her own choices on the world stage.
Father-daughter tension forms the backbone of two of the best films in Competition, Screen International’s critics’ poll winner “Toni Erdmann” and directing prize co-winner Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation.”
German filmmaker Maren Ade‘s third feature is a generational comedy that pits a goofy father (Peter Simonischek) against his workaholic corporate strategist daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller). She’s a woman in a man’s world who thinks she doesn’t need feminism, who Ade sees as almost “a gender-neutral character.” After anxiously trying to prove herself to her male bosses, Ines eventually gets what her father is trying to tell her via his crazy antics and humor. She sees things more clearly, reconnects with him, and takes control of her own life.
The young Romanian star of Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” shines in Mungiu’s “Graduation,” which sends a controlling father (Adrian Titieni) into a tailspin when his long-held post-graduation plans for his daughter (Dragus) go terribly awry. At the start of “Graduation,” the daughter’s rape sets in motion a series of revelations, compromises and ethical dilemmas as the father tries desperately to keep things on track. To her credit, his daughter refuses to go along with his schemes, stands up to him with strength and moral fortitude, and finally sets free her two protective parents from all their secrets and lies.
Andrea Arnold, Sasha Lane and Riley Keough British director Arnold took home the Cannes jury prize for the third time for her daring American road movie “American Honey” (A24), an empowering coming of age story starring unknown Sasha Lane, making Arnold three for three at the fest after 2006’s “Red Road” and 2009’s “Fish Tank.”
Critics adored the film, which was shaped by the American midwestern landscape as well as the editing room. Arnold’s final film was vastly different from its original script, turning toward the young woman finding her identity as its through-line—Shia Labeouf and Elvis Presley granddaughter Riley Keough (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) offered stalwart support— and was unlike anything else at Cannes this year.
Jodie Foster and Julia Roberts Foster likes bringing smart movies like “Money Monster” and “The Beaver” to Cannes—it’s a film festival for smart people, after all —and she introduced “Money Monster” star Julia Roberts to the Croisette, who walked up the red carpet with bare feet, reminding us all that she has nothing to prove. “We were thrilled for Julia,” Foster told me in our video interview. “George is so excited to show her Cannes, and wanted her to have that moment seeing that sea of photographers.”
“Money Monster” was the perfect Cannes out-of-competition studio entry, an entertaining populist Wall Street/media critique for festival gala audiences, with major movie stars for the tapis rouge, press conference and junket for a European market launch. Not surprisingly, the actors are terrific: Clooney plays a glib financial TV guru held hostage by an angry victim of his bad advice (a surprisingly sympathetic Jack O’Connell), who fits him with a bomb vest as punishment. Roberts as Clooney’s producer beams the story live as everyone scrambles to come out of the crisis intact.
As a Hollywood movie star who pushed past conventional women’s roles, scoring four Oscar nominations and two wins (“The Accused,” “The Silence of the Lambs”) and has carried many commercial movies on her own (“Contact,” “Panic Room,” “Flight Plan”), Foster beefed up Roberts’ character to give her more purpose and dimension. In the original script she was more of a technician, but Foster turned her into a competent, strong, active producer who helps Clooney’s character find his strength and unravel the mystery.
In Cannes regulars Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “The Unknown Girl” (Sundance Selects), Haenel plays another gender-neutral character, an excellent, empathetic doctor who is not defined by her relationships or friends; she lives a solitary, monastic life devoted to the well-being of her patients. When she ignores a late-hour doorbell at her private practice and finds out from the police that the young woman was murdered nearby, the doctor embarks on a mission, against the wishes of many including the police, to identify the girl and inform her family of her death.
Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri
With erotic mystery “The Handmaiden” (Amazon) great Korean auteur Park Chan-wook moved the Victorian setting of the novel “Fingersmith” to the 30s period when Japan occupied Korea. Told in two parts from two distinct points-of-view, the lushly mounted movie follows a rich Korean gentlewoman (star Kim Min-hee) and her maidservant (newcomer Kim Tae-ri) who not only fall lustily in love, but plot against their oppressive masters. Park has fashioned a luscious tale of sexual expression and female empowerment.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Neon Demon” also puts women front and center, led by Elle Fanning, who was 16 when she was cast, 17 when she shot the film, and is now 18. She plays a newcomer to the La fashion scene who discovers that starving models literally eat each other alive. In one memorable scene, when one x-ray known as the bionic woman (because she has altered so much of her body) throws up an eyeball, her best friend pops it into her own mouth. Refn said he wanted to make the women characters primary and the men secondary. While the movie was not a critical hit in Cannes and did not win any prizes, the stylishly transgressive genre exercise could become a smart-horror hit stateside when Amazon Studios releases it in June.
Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suárez These two superb Spanish actresses star as the young and older incarnations of Pedro Almodóvar’s latest female creation, “Julieta” (Sony Pictures Classics). The Spanish auteur’s adaptation of three Alice Munro stories was originally going to star Meryl Streep in an English-language version, in which she would have used makeup to play both roles. This way the movie takes on a decidedly Hitchcockian tone, as the very blonde young Julieta (Ugarte) enjoys mad sex with a stranger on a train, while the older and soberer Julieta (Suárez) is less open, prey to feelings of loss and regret. Why is she estranged from her daughter? What went wrong the day her husband went fishing in the face of an impending storm? This twisted family saga unfolds in cinematic ways that could only come from Almodóvar. Related storiesTop Women Cinematographers Reveal 7 Best Tips for Career SuccessCannes Film Festival Awards 2016Cannes Today: New Talent Emerges »
- Anne Thompson
This time on the Newsstand, Ryan is joined by Scott Nye and Arik Devens to discuss a few pieces of Criterion Collection news.
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Topics & Links The August 2016 Criterion Collection Line-up Cat People cover art Ugetsu restoration shows at Cannes, very favorable response Seattle listeners – Scarecrow Video is holding a 50% off sale on select titles through the 31st Cannes Film Fest – Sundance Selects picked up new Ken Loach movie, “I, Daniel Blake”; Amazon making a big mark McCabe & Mrs. Miller McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) – The Criterion Collection McCabe & Mrs. Miller on iTunes McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) – IMDb McCabe & Mrs. Miller – Wikipedia The making and unmaking of McCabe & Mrs. Miller The art of the deal in McCabe & Mrs. Miller AFI: 10 Top 10 McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) – Rotten Tomatoes Cover by Jon Contino (his first) Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words Ingrid Bergman »
- Ryan Gallagher
Jodie Foster: "Everything changed when women came on the scene." Photo: Richard Mowe
Jodie Foster, who is back at the Cannes Film Festival more than 40 years after she first appeared aged 12 in the controversial Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese, recalls she wanted to be a film director from an early age.
The director of Money Monster, a financial thriller with George Clooney and Julia Roberts, screening out of competition, was the first candidate in the Women in Motion sessions sponsored by luxury goods brand Kering in a suitably swanky suite atop the Majestic Hotel.
Foster, 53, looked cool and elegant in a simple shift dress in pale pink. After starring in dozens of films, from Freaky Friday in 1976 to Silence Of The Lambs (1991), Contact (1997) and Panic Room in 2002, she has now decided to focus on her work behind the camera.
"I see I confuse people because I am so direct. »
- Richard Mowe
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- Movie Geeks
Kristen Stewart may have starred alongside Jodie Foster in Panic Room back in 2002 when she was just 11 years old, but their recent outing proves they're still incredibly close. After attending the Met Gala in New York City on Monday (and nearly running into ex Robert Pattinson), Kristen jetted back to Hollywood on Wednesday to support Jodie when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Jodie, who has starred in films like The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, and Contact, was all smiles while putting her arm around Kristen for photos. Keep reading to see more from their cute afternoon, then check out what Jodie had to say about always feeling "protective" over Kristen. »
- Caitlin Hacker
By now, most of us know the story of Mad Max director George Miller and his never-realized Justice League project. But did you know there was another famous film he almost went on to direct for Warner Bros.? Some of us may never get over what Justice League: Mortal could have been. Perhaps the pain will be less acute over this new information, considering the final product was a relatively well-received movie. Miller (along with Roland Joffé) were at one point set to direct Contact. Ultimately directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump), 1997's Contact starred Jodie Foster as Dr. Eleanor Arroway, a Seti scientist whose long search for alien life leads to actual discovery and more doubt than she's every experienced in life. It also starred Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, James Woods, John Hurt, and Angela Bassett. The film changed a bit from Carl Sagan »
- Jill Pantozzi
From Monday, May 2nd we won't be here anymore; we'll be at our shiny new site, Theplaylist.Net. Update your bookmarks, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for a shot at winning an iPad. George Miller's career has a couple of what-could-have-beens, most notably his aborted "Justice League" movie. But also among the movies he nearly made is "Contact," the pretty good 1997 Robert Zemeckis sci-fi film starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. Based on the novel by Carl Sagan, who only wrote book after his initial movie treatment was wasting away in development hell, Miller was initially attached to direct, and had lined up Foster to star, along with Ralph Fiennes in McConaughey's role. But alas, it didn't happen. Read More: Ranked: The Films Of Robert Zemeckis There were many reasons the project didn't get greenlit, but essentially the budget got too big, and Warner Bros. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Considering the mess of the last "Green Lantern" film in 2011, enthusiasm for the in-development "Green Lantern Corps" film that ties in with the new Dceu mythology is understandably low. But one key bit of hiring could turn around the naysayers.
The latest episode of Heroic Insider has included a comment suggest whom they've heard as a potential directing candidate for the 2020 release: "George Miller is being rumored to direct the Green Lantern Corps movie. I think it would be perfect for him."
As many as three human Green Lanterns are rumored to feature in the new film. Miller already has a hand in the Dceu as a producer on the currently in production "Justice League: Part One".
In related news, screenwriter Mark Lamprell has spoken about an old project of Miller's - a film adaptation of Carl Sagan's "Contact". Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis was the one who directed the well-regarded 1997 film adaptation, »
- Garth Franklin
His second novel, A Lovers' Guide to Rome, has just been published by Allen and Unwin. As if that wasn't enough, his next film, A Few Less Men, will be released later in the year..
"I was at Kennedy Miller for years", Lamprell said..
"I did a documentary series called Sports Crazy, a ten hour series, in 1987. Before that, every time they did a miniseries, I did a 'making of' one-hour special."
That led to Lamprell being enlisted by Miller as a writer on various projects, including one very large science-fiction adaptation.
"I'd gotten to be a funny little fixture there at Kennedy Miller, and »
- Harry Windsor
It's just one of several gems of the genre you can stream right now, including Jodie Foster seeking alien life in "Contact" and the mind-bending indie "Primer." From "Star Trek" to "Galaxy Quest," we got you covered.
- Sharon Knolle
The Texas Archive of the Moving Image is transporting the award-winning Texas Film Round-Up to Bastrop County, just outside of Austin, now through March 12. Tami is providing free digitization of any Texas-related films and videos, including home movies, advertisements, PSAs, educational films, and more at the Bastrop, Elgin, and Smithville Public Libraries during library hours. So dig up those old films you made with your siblings or neighbors for free digitization, and contribute to the growing collection of Tami’s archived films. Participants must be willing to donate a digital copy of their materials to Tami to qualify for free digitization. They are also collecting copies of Texas-related films that have already been digitized. This program offers unprecedented access to more than 30,000 films and videos, and serves hundreds of individuals and institutions. The Texas Archive digitizes every multiple genres, as well as organizes films based on location, landmarks, time period, »
After 63 years somebody has taken a crack at Arthur C. Clarke's monumental sci-fi novel. This interpretation throws the emphasis way out of whack but succeeds too frequently to ignore. Charles Dance is the alarming Overlord Karellen, who comes from the stars to escort humanity through its next stage of development... and to announce the end of the world as we know it. Childhood's End Blu-ray Universal Studios Home Entertainment 2015 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 247 min. / Street Date March 1, 2016 / 34.98 Starring Charles Dance, Mike Vogel, Osy Ikhile, Daisy Betts, Georgina Haig, Ashley Zukerman, Hayley Magnus, Charlotte Nicdao, Peretta, Lachlan Roland-Kenn, Julian McMahon, Colm Meany, Robert Morgan. Cinematography Neville Kidd Film Editor Sean Albertson, Yan Miles, Eric A. Sears Original Music Charlie Clouser Written by Matthew Graham from the novel by Arthur C. Clarke Produced by Nick Hurran, John C. Lenick, Paul M. Leonard Directed by Nick Hurran
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
This is »
- Glenn Erickson
In just two weeks, Alamo Drafthouses nationwide will host screenings of A24's The Witch. More details on that story after the jump. Also in this round-up: a trailer for Night Terrors, Angelica release details, a new clip from The Final Project, and four images from The Terrible Two.
The Witch: Press Release: "Austin, TX - Feb 3, 2016 - The Alamo Drafthouse is excited to announce A24's chilling new horror film The Witch as the latest Drafthouse Recommends title. The film will open at Alamo Drafthouse locations nationwide with "sneak preview" screenings on the night of Feb. 18th, 2016. In the lead up to that opening date, select Alamo locations will also host free retrospective screenings of witchcraft horror classics to get audiences in the, er, spirit and to set the stage for director Robert Eggers' debut feature and groundbreaking new take on the genre.
And, for a limited time this month, »
- Tamika Jones
News hit today that Spotlight Pictures has acquired worldwide sales for Teeth director Mitchell Lichtenstein’s supernatural gothic drama Angelica. Featuring a cast comprised of Jena Malone (The Hunger Games, Contact), Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs, Tumbleweeds) and Ed Stoppard (The Pianist), the film also boasts a crew of two-time Academy Award® nominee cinematographer Dick Pope (Mr. Turner and The Illusionist), Academy Award® nominee costume designer Rita Ryack (Casino, Apollo 13) and Academy Award® winning production designer Luciana Arrighi (Howard’S End). Two-time César winner Zbigniew Preisner composed the score.
Regarding the acquisition, Lichtenstein had the follow to say: “I’m psyched to be putting Angelica into the capable hands of the folks at Spotlight Pictures,” said Lichtenstein. “They will be effective, enthusiastic custodians of our beautiful and intensely emotional film, bringing it to a wide and diverse audience.”
Angelica is a gothic tale of a newly married couple living in »
- Jerry Smith
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